Rodney Hide: Why I smacked my 3-year-old

NZ Herald 25 May 2014
Quick. Call the cops! I smacked my 3-year-old.

It wasn’t Once Were Warriors. Far from it.

I never gave the law a thought. Perhaps I should have. Amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act proved hugely controversial and I could hardly plead ignorance. But I spent too many years in Parliament to look to politics for parental guidance.

Besides, Section 59 is contradictory and confusing. It says that I am justified in using “reasonable” force to prevent “the child from engaging … in offensive or disruptive behaviour”. That’s me, I’m sure.

But then, “Nothing … justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction”. So that wasn’t me.

And, “To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints … where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution”.

Brilliant. Smacking is banned. With loopholes to enable smacking. It’s the perfect political solution: everyone is accommodated.

And outside the smacking brouhaha, we parents must just get on with it. We are not perfect. But we do our best. And we love our kids to bits. That’s what counts. Not what Sue Bradford, Helen Clark and John Key have to say.